It’s been two years since convicted rapist Brock Turner was sentenced to a mere six months in prison by Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky. The court’s — and specifically Persky’s — leniency sparked rightful outrage among victims’ rights advocates, as well as those who believe Turner got off easy due to his status as a white, wealthy male athlete. And on June 5th, Judge Persky was officially recalled from the bench.
The vote to recall the judge took place as part of the California midterm primary election, and Persky is the first California judge to be recalled in 86 years. He had four years left in his six-year judicial term. According to a May poll conducted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and The Mercury News, 46% of voters supported removing the judge before election day, versus 33% who opposed the move.
Although Persky has remained silent about the Turner case itself, he has criticized the recall vote. At a May 8th press conference, he argued that fear of public condemnation should not influence judges’ decision-making abilities, and that a recall vote would threaten this right. He even compared the reaction to his decision with the reaction to Brown v. Board of Education.
Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford, led the recall campaign and told the Los Angeles Times that she feels voting Persky out would not negatively affect other judges’ sentencing abilities.
Dauber said that in her opinion, Turner’s light sentencing was in and of itself due to bias, noting that he has handed down lenient sentences in similar cases. It’s worth noting that, like Turner, Persky was a student-athlete at Stanford.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who previously said Turner’s sentence was too short, opposed the recall.
The people of California have spoken. And they’re saying goodbye to Judge Aaron Persky.